Cathair Friel (08)
Cathair Friel (88)
Jonathan McMurray (90 1)

3

Patrick McNally (54)

1

Cathair Friel receives the congratulations of his Sky Blue team-mates after opening the scoring (Picture: Declan Roughan/PressEye.com)

FRIEL DOUBLE HELPS SKY BLUES WIN FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL

Ballymena United defeated Carrick Rangers in this League Cup final dress rehearsal at The Showgrounds.

Cathair Friel fired the Sky Blues in front after just eight minutes with a first time finish at the back post after a Joe McKinney run and cross down the left.

And Friel could have added a second a quarter-of-an-hour later only to somehow fire over from close range after meeting a Tony Kane corner.

Ballymena enjoyed the lions' share of possession throughout the first half, coming close again right at the end when efforts from McKinney and Conor McCloskey were saved before Leroy Millar fired wide.

However, Carrick levelled nine minutes after the break when former United defender Paddy McNally rose highest to nod a Stephen McCullough header past Steven McCullough.

At the other end, 'keeper Brian Neeson did well to scamper the ball to safety after Kyle Owens turned the ball goalbound from Allan Jenkins' touch.

After that Johnny McMurray headed wide from another Kane delivery before going one-on-one with the 'keeper but Neeson saved well.

But United did edge back in front on 88 minutes with Friel's second of the game, a low half-volley past Neeson, before McMurray added a third in stoppage time after turning a Neil Lowry pass over the line.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, T. Kane, Owens, Flynn, Jenkins, McCloskey, Friel, Ervin, Millar, McKinney, McMurray subs Faulkner (replaced McKinney 69), E. Kane (not used), Wallace (not used), Lowry (replaced McCloskey 78), Allen (not used)

Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Chapman, Foster, McNally, McCullough, Kelly, Taggart, Noble, McAllister, M. Murray, O'Connor subs T.J. Murray (replaced O'Connor 65), Surgenor (not used), Mustapha (replaced McNally 77), Rice (not used), Morrow (replaced McAllister 75)

Referee: Steven Taylor

Attendance: 955